- Madison Frank
In my last post I promised to share more about the Hawk Walk we took on our trip to Ashford Castle in Ireland, so here it is! I was a little nervous for this outing because I am not really a fan of birds and the thought of a bird of prey flying full force straight at me was incredibly intimidating.
We took out two Harris hawks named Sonora and Beckett for our walk around the grounds. I was expecting them to be heavy and for their claws to rip into me, but surprisingly, they were super light and couldn’t be any less interested in tearing me apart.
After an introduction to the hawks and their behavior, we took them out for a stroll and a flight around the grounds and in the forest that surrounds the castle. The hawks would fly from tree to tree watching us and then when we did certain arm movements and held out food in our hands, they would swoop down and land on our gloves.
The first few times it’s absolutely terrifying to have this bird with massive talons flying to land on your arm. Eventually, you get used to it, until one of them flies directly into your head and lands on your shoulder when it was supposed to land on your brother’s arm…but I survived. Anyways, fun fact about these hawks: they are afraid of dogs, horses, and strollers…surprising on that last one. So sometimes when people or horses went past us, the hawks would freeze and stay safe and hidden in the tree tops until we bribed them with more food. We eventually were able to take them into the forest and let them hop from tree to tree and back to perch on our arms. Definitely one of the cooler things I’ve done.
I totally recommend signing up for a Hawk Walk if you ever stay at Ashford Castle, even if you hate birds like I do. It was an experience I will remember forever and made my stay at Ashford Castle even more special.
Here’s a video of me looking cool, calm, and collected with my hawk. NBD. Just kidding. Mine wouldn’t fly away when I signaled it to. I’m a horrible hawk master. I also dropped it.